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The story of La Dirindina concerns a wily but gifted young singer, Dirindina (Jamie Barton), and her teacher Don Carissimo (Brian Shircliffe), whose interest in his pupil is more than a little untoward. Dirindina’s independent spirit and her ability to sing (when she wants to) annoy Don Carissimo, who is further vexed by the appearance of Liscione (Joseph Gaines), a famous castrato who brings some surprising news: the Milan theater wants to engage Dirindina as its prima donna. Don Carissimo flies into a rage, stammering his way through a highly amusing and forward-looking aria, only to see that his pretty pupil is now flirting openly with the castrato.
Part II opens with the unctuous Liscione plying Dirindina with a little minuet, which manages simultaneously to flatter the young singer’s ego while lampooning the fashionable but shamelessly sentimental manners of the aristocracy. Dirindina responds with perhaps the oddest aria in the work, full of syncopations and serpentine melodies that cheekily invoke various bodily fluids, with which she promises to seduce the Milanese public. The ensuing “play within a play,” a mock enactment of the tragic Dido’s rejection of the feckless Aeneas, is witnessed by Don Carissimo, who fails to get the joke and thinks that his ward is not only with child but ready to commit suicide. As with all good comedies, the joke’s on him: the finale is both outrageous and touching, as the capon and the hen are joined in hand by a thoroughly deceived old man.